Hassocks, BN6 8QA
Date opened: Monday 28th November 1938
Date Closed: Not Known
First film shown: ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’
Architect: E.B Parkinson
First General Manager: Kenneth Johnson
Seating Capacity: 811
The studio cinema Keymer Road Hassocks was opened on Monday 28th November 1938 by Colonel Sir William R. Campion KCMG DSO. The cinema was built on the site of a private house, which was once owned by a branch of Earl Haig’s family. The cinema was built in fifteen weeks by the builders T.J. Braybon and Son Ltd from Brighton. The architect was E.B Parkinson of Huntingdon. Sir William Campion was introduced by Mr W. Fletcher, a director of the Fletcher-Barnett Syndicate Ltd, the owners. A press report said: Sir William said the cinema was going to be a great asset to the neighbourhood. Previously, people in certain villages and towns had found it difficult to get to a place where there was a cinema, but Hassocks was very accessible.
Up in the operating box was the latest Western Electric Mirrorphonic sound system. Seating was for around 800 and the opening programme was, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Clock Cleavers (silly symphony), Gaumont British News, Edgar and Goliath and The March of Time. It was to be The Drum as the first feature, but for some reason it was changed. The first manager was a major Kenneth Johnson. Later, it was managed by a Mr Arthur Ridley.
The press stated, there was an interesting gathering in connection with the building of the cinema held at the Downs Hotel, Hassocks on the Sunday evening, when around 120 guests were entertained to dinner by the Fletcher-Barnett Syndicate Ltd. A toast to the house and Mr E.B Parkinson was proposed by Mr A.P. Belton of Braybon and Son. He thought that Mr Charles Barnett (co owner) had found an excellent site at Hassocks, and his architect had produced the very best cinema with which he had anything to do with. It was stated that the members of the Haywards Heath licensing authority had shown more courtesy and had been more helpful in their criticism than any other licensing authority he had met. Mr Belton presented a cheque to Mr Percy Morley, the foreman in appreciation of his excellent work.
There was a private showing of the programme after the guests had inspected the building. By the early fifties the cinema was run by Orion cinemas. In 1953 two employees of Belchers Radio service, Lewis, had narrow escapes from injury when they were fixing an aerial for projection television on the Roof. The building was eventually demolished. It is not clear when it opened and closed as the Orion. Sadly, a number of cinemas failed to record such details. If anyone knows when it became the Orion and the closing date and last film, please get in touch.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk